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Target Or Flag
Vandermark 5
Target Or Flag
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Metal
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1

Chicago's Vandermark 5 are an avant-garde jazz ensemble with a modern perspective on life. An ambitious saxophonist-composer who dedicates each of his songs to someone who has made an impact in his life (like Cecil Taylor ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Vandermark 5
Title: Target Or Flag
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Original Release Date: 5/19/1998
Re-Release Date: 3/31/2009
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Metal
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Alternative Metal
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 735286110623, 0735286110623, 669910872208

Chicago's Vandermark 5 are an avant-garde jazz ensemble with a modern perspective on life. An ambitious saxophonist-composer who dedicates each of his songs to someone who has made an impact in his life (like Cecil Taylor and Jackie Chan), Vandermark does quite well on his second outing as a leader. Vandermark is also a member of Chicago's NRG Ensemble and has hijacked NRG bandmates Mars Williams (saxophone) and Kent Kessler (bass) for this endeavor as well as using trombonist-guitarist Jeb Bishop and drummer Tim Mulvena. Visceral, expansive, and uniquely imaginative, Vandermark's compositions are carefully structured without sacrificing the freedom of experimental jazz. Vandermark's burly saxophone tone is offset by the frantic antics of the Coltrane-inspired Mars Williams and Jeb Bishop's excursions on trombone and guitar. --Mitch Myers

CD Reviews

Vandermark and the Zeitgeist
R. Hutchinson | a world ruled by fossil fuels and fossil minds | 07/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ken Vandermark played a key role in revitalizing a jazz scene in Chicago in the '90s. After several years of restless playing in too many units to keep track of, the best-known outside Chicago being the NRG Ensemble, Vandermark began recording his own compositions with the Vandermark 5. This is their second record, following SINGLE PIECE FLOW, and preceding SIMPATICO. All three are superb, and each has its own slightly different character, hard to capture in words. I would say TARGET OR FLAG gives Jeb Bishop's guitar a more prominent role than on the other two -- the piece dedicated to Eddie Hazel (of Funkadelic) is one case where the tribute is in the spirit of the dedicatee! (Vandermark loves to dedicate pieces, and it is often not clear that there is any connection.)

The Vandermark 5 is one of the three units that Ken Vandermark has recorded with the most in the last few years, the others being the DKV Trio (Hamid Drake, Kent Kessler and K.V.) and the AALY Trio, led by Mats Gustafsson. DKV is mainly free improv, and AALY is overtly centered on the legacy of Albert Ayler. The V5 is the showcase for Vandermark's compositions. I saw them live at Chicago's Empty Bottle in August of '99, following the release of SIMPATICO, and they were awesome! Special credit to drummer Tim Mulvenna, who is a powerhouse. If you are into modern jazz, you cannot miss this album (which won the Cadence Magazine Readers' Poll as best album of 1998, a must-read publication by the way), nor the others by the V5. They capture the zeitgeist like nothing else in the world of jazz right now.

2005 UPDATE -- In retrospect, TARGET OR FLAG and SIMPATICO were the V5's two best recordings, so definitely check it out if you're interested in the group."
This jazz rocks
Paul Carr | Silver Spring, MD United States | 10/07/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Jazz isn't dead, in spite of the best efforts of the Jazz snobs and the fuzak merchants to kill it. Great players like Ken Vandermark who understand the tradition without apeing it are keeping Jazz alive and well.I wasn't familiar with Vandermark's work before, so I come to it fresh, and I am very impressed. After three times through, it's really growin on me. This is very well executed jazz with real energy, ...and imagination at once. Behind the fine musicianship, there is something of an angry, defiant edge to it all - not entirely unlike the "New Thing" of the sixties. In fact, every tune brings a different aspect of the Jazz tradition into the modern era. I can hear echoes of Mingus on some tracks, Coltrane elsewhere, the ghost of Eric Dolphy flits in and out, and avant-icons like Ornette Coleman have their say. The guitarist (ably doubling on trombone) often sounds much more like Hendrix than any Montgomery, and at times reminds me of unclassifiable players like Marc Ribot or Fred Frith."